Thursday, August 30, 2012

A Baby Story Part 2

We recently had our second doctor’s appointment of the pregnancy which was highly anticipated as it would be our first chance to see the baby (via ultrasound) and hear its heartbeat. We were led into a room with an ultrasound machine and a pleasant operator we will call Judy. As Judy dispensed the “belly jelly” and began manipulating the produce scanner over my wife’s abdomen, the wall monitor came to life and I was struck by two things:
1.      The emotional gravity of actually hearing the heartbeat of your first child cannot be overstated.
2.      General Electric was the manufacturer of the machine producing the image.
The second fact was apparent thanks to the enormous logo. If I am not mistaken, the GE seal was proportionally larger on screen than the fetus itself. The GE sponsorship was so prominent on the machine, photos, and DVD I felt like my unborn child was a NASCAR driver. I half expected to Judy’s forearm to reveal a “GE 4 Lyfe” tattoo.

I understand a manufacturer wishing to identify its machine, but if you are going to watermark my fetus with your logo, I at least expect some compensation. Furthermore, are they hoping this will increase sales? Are there a large number of expectant mothers who are able to choose their pre-natal care based solely upon the model of imaging equipment? Do they think someone is going to look at our ultrasound pictures and say, “Wow! We need to find a doctor with a GE ultrasound machine because the one our doctor used made my kid look like a ferret brandishing a pair of maracas!”

I hate to burst their marketing bubble, but unless I see a tag identifying the machine as the “Miscarriage 4000” I could care less who made it as long they take my insurance. I was tempted to make a note of the specific part number and remark to the operator that I noticed she was using a GE L74200-R and wondered if she had experienced any of amniotic refraction issues common to that hardware revision.

Once the ultrasound was completed, we were whisked into an exam room where a nurse asked if we would like to participate in a genetic study. I naturally assumed that we had qualified based on our conspicuous intelligence and enviable physical characteristics but it turned they will take anybody who was “in a family way.”

We were left with an 11-page document that began with the sentence “This consent form may contain words that you do not understand.”  As the form continued, they would attempt to explain complicated terms by translating them in parenthesis. For example, the word “authorize” was translated as (give permission for) and the word “disclosed” was translated as (shared).

Now, I have no idea whose responsibility it was to identify which words required translation and which words would be discernible to the common citizen, but they need to be let go. How is it that “authorize” made the cut but “chromosome abnormality” and “amniocentesis” are self-explanatory? 

There is also a section where they assure participants that their “blood will never be used to create another human being” which I am pretty sure was taken verbatim from a Ben Affleck movie.
Needless to say, we were apprehensive until they told us we would make $50 which is apparently the exact amount of money necessary to overcome our fear of being confronted by our child’s genetic clone.

On a final note, I have a “Dad Tip” of my own: If your wife is in her first trimester and has been experiencing uncontrolled weeping, do not rent Big Miracle thinking it will lift her spirits. It won’t.

---------------------------Spoiler Alert--------------------------------

For those who do not know, Big Miracle is the 2012 film starring Drew Barrymore that is based on the rescue of a family of whales in Alaska. Universal Pictures has some explaining to do because it is more than a little misleading to throw around the term “heartwarming” and “miracle” in a film where the baby whale dies from contusions and starvation. It was like watching Rabbit Hole if all the roles were played by marine mammals. Perhaps a more accurate title would have been “An Attempted Whale Rescue With Acceptable Casualties Given The Circumstances.”

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